Ok, we’re not really science-y around here. That has been one of the subjects that I try to start and then don’t stick with for very long. But I recently found a free science curriculum at msnucleus.org and it’s really nice for Grades K-12.
Since we haven’t really done too much science, I just started everyone, including my older ones, at the kindergarten level so that they could pick up the stuff that they would miss if I started them at their grade level. I add some activities or comprehension questions suitable for their level (kindergarten level has lots of coloring, etc that is too young for them). But I definitely recommend checking this out, its great.
So anyway, we are in the beginning stages of the curriculum, studying water and we were learning about the differences between oceans and rivers. (ocean is salty and does not flow, rivers flow and the water is “fresh” water). There was an experiment that involved observing salt water and plain water. We mixed some salt into the water and stirred it and tasted the plain water and the salt water. I asked them if one person was stranded in the ocean and one in the forest near a river, which one might be better off and they guessed the forest person because they could drink the water.
Then we took a turn off the curriculum and tried our own thing. We boiled the salt water on the stove (we had studied earlier about the phases of water (solid, liquid, gas) so we decided to explore water as a gas and water evaporating. We noticed that when the water evaporated, the salt accumulated on the side of the pan and became very white. We noticed that the bubbles started from the bottom of the pan and then pushed upward and then out to turn into gas. We guessed that this was because the bottom of the pan was where the heat was coming from. When the water boiled all away, the salt did not resemble its appearance before we mixed it with water. It was kind of in a cake.
So then my nine year old, (lego man), said can we try sugar? I thought this would be neat as I knew that this was how you could make caramel by boiling water and sugar but I kept that to myself til our experiment was underway. So we mixed the sugar with water and began to boil it. The sugar water took a lot longer to boil than the salt water and it began to turn an amber color and get thick. Sugar was not really forming on the side of the pan like the salt, although we saw a little. This little experiment was great not only for its scientific observation but I realized it helped with their thinking skills as we compared the differences between the two experiments. They came up with a lot of observations.
Eventually the sugar began to burn. The water took a longer time to evaporate with the sugar water. It only burned on one side of the pan so lego man suggested that we move the pan over and it began to burn on the opposite side. Once the substance began to burn, it quickly burnt. The pan was not totally centered so one side was still amber colored. I turned the oven off and the sugar still kept burning on the burnt side. We stuck a plastic spoon in it and it melted the tip and hardened quickly. We scooped out the amber colored part and let it cool off. It was stringy and some parts were clumpy. Once it cooled (pretty quickly), we tasted it and it was kind of like caramel or at least something sweet. The kids were so excited. It was so great to see their enthusiasm.
Over the years, I have learned that you shouldn’t try to stick to a set curriculum 100% but take time out to go where your children’s interest take you. It can be fun you can learn a lot more than you would expect.
After the sugar, they wanted to make some more candy and next they wanted to try garlic powder in water (looking around the kitchen for more stuff to try)……………….